Communities across the north were celebrating last night after landing a £6.5million funding bonanza.
The UK Government has revealed 24 schemes across the Highlands and Islands, Moray and Aberdeenshire will share the windfall from the Coastal Communities Fund (CCF).
Major investments include £712,775 for a new “community hub” at Sleat on the Isle of Skye, £698,568 to install pontoons at Castlebay Harbour on Barra and £450,000 to turn derelict buildings at Portsoy into tourist accommodation.
A total of £9.58million is being spent in Scotland, and more than half of the money will go directly to the Highlands and islands.
North MP Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury, established the fund in 2012 and hailed its impact last night.
“I created the Coastal Communities Fund because, as someone who grew up on a small island, I know how much difference targeted investment can make,” he said.
“It’s supported scores of coastal communities throughout Scotland. Overall, hundreds of communities will benefit, creating jobs and making sure some of our most remote and fragile communities share in the economic recovery.”
A total of £116.64million from the CCF has now been awarded in three rounds, including £17.28million for Scottish schemes.
The latest investment includes £170,200 for the pier at Carbost, Skye, £167,437 to refurbish a Victorian hostel at Findhorn, Moray, £95,000 for a sustainable textile project on Shetland, and a £221,973 revamp of quayside space at Loch-boisdale in South Uist.
One of the largest awards is £712,775 to the Camuscross and Duisdale Initiative on Skye, which wants to build a £1.8million community hall, cafe and shop at Sleat.
Initiative chairman Mark Wringe said: “Our plan is to create a building that can sustain itself, that’s why we are including a shop and a cafe.
“We’ve consulted with the community and it’s something that is wanted in the area. The coastal communities award is very welcome and will help us work towards getting the building up and running.”
A further £179,108 will go towards a heritage and crafts programme for the small Orkney island of Papa Westray.
Alistair Hourston, chairman of the Papay Development Trust, said the money would be used to pay for a full-time ranger as well as buying a boat for tours.
He said: “Anything that can be done to develop income and tourism is very welcome.”
Elsewhere, £127,447 has been secured for employment at Lochinver, £105,000 to retain traditional boat repair skills on Shetland and £99,820 for a tourist marketing project at Dornoch. An award of £250,000 for a pontoon at Stornoway Harbour is aimed at attracting yachts and small cruise ships in an effort to boost tourism to the Western Isles.
Plans to develop a tourism strategy at Unst on Shetland will receive £63,098, a green energy scheme on the Western Isles will get £497,419, an upgrade of Tobermory Harbour on Mull will receive £212,082, a proposed North Uist wool centre and drying loft will receive £125,000, and an upgrade and extension of the community hub on Vatersay will get £220,000.
Mr Alexander, the MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, set up the CCF to address long-standing complaints that the Crown Estate Commission was raising huge revenues from the Queen’s assets in Scotland, but most of the money was flowing to the Exchequer. Under the scheme, half of the revenues from the Crown Estate’s marine activities is redistributed back to local areas.
Campaigners have continued to call for devolution of the management of the Crown Estate in Scotland.